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Nissan Altima Engine Failures



  • jd10013jd10013 Posts: 779
    I was slow in getting it in to service this issue,

    thats in you paperwork, and by doing that you voided your warrnaty. any car company will stipulate that if the oil light or certain other things happen, you are to stop driving the vehicle and get it to the dealership immediately. Few people do, but everybody should read the warranty and owners manual. In fact, I'd say it should be required before a car can leave the lot.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Some recent posts have been removed. We'd like to help folks who are having these issues, but we can't sponsor class-action suits nor can we support posts whose primary purpose is to send folks to other automotive message boards.

    Please see the Membership Agreement for full details. It's linked at the bottom of the page. If you have questions, feel free to drop me an email.

    Thanks for your understanding and cooperation.
  • Thank you for your information. I went thru the BBB auto line arbitration and won my case. I requested a trade and it should be completed soon. Having all my information together and not answering unasked questions really seemed to help the case. I would recommend that anyone going through this process keep good records and state your case calmly and compactly web site gives very good advise.
  • I bought my 2002 Altima 2.5 SL in Jan 2004. Recently check engine light came on. It was coded random miss fire. A cracked engine blocked was found on no 4 cylinder. Since I've had it there have been no signs of overheating. I bought it with 33K it now has 95K miles. Head gasket and head were in good shape. I'm replacing the engine with a Jasper engine.

    Have there been other reports of this problem. It really surprised me.

  • jd10013jd10013 Posts: 779
    I haven't heard of any. there were some issues with the rings on very early 2006's that caused them to burn a lot of oil. But the 2002's seem to have held up pretty well.
  • Thanks missyholmes and bigtuna for the info. I too have the same symptoms in my 2004 Nissan Altima 2.5S. Something keeps damaging the spark plugs in the cylinder. I believe there is strength in numbers to make Nissan fix the problem. It will be much harder if we take our cases to them one by one. They will pretend like its an isolated problem. What I want to do is create a list of names of people with the identical problem so that we can take our cases to Nissan and be heard. Please email me with the problem you are having with your car, your name, the year of your car, mileage, and your phone #. I will compile your complaint with mine and mail a copy to everyone. Then everyone will have proof in their hands that it is a Nissan defect. My email is Thanks.
  • Well people, I think I have a handle on this oil consumption problem with the Nissan Altima 2.5S. Maybe not a solution, but at least a good understanding of what is happening and why. My daughter has a 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5S that she bought in December 2003 with 29,730 miles. It is starting to exhibit excessive oil burning at 97,000 miles. At the last oil change service, she came in with the engine oil very low, so low it would not even touch the end of the dipstick, the dipstick would pull out dry. I told her to check the oil frequently now, at least once every two weeks, and she now keeps a spare bottle of oil in the trunk. I have done all the service on this car since she has had it, so it has had excellent service. It always receives full synthetic motor oil and synthetic motor oil filter. We are monitoring it now to see what rate it is using the oil. There are no oil leaks at all, so it must be consuming the oil. I guessing right now about 1 quart in about a 1000 miles. I have a good idea of what could be causing this to happen because of several events that have happened.
    First, I heard and read about the TSB and Recall on SOME of the cars about the problem with the precatalytic converter. My daugher took her car to the dealer and asked if this precatalyst recalled applied to her car, They looked up the VIN, and of course they said no. My understanding is that "under certain conditions", material from within the precatalyst can get sucked back into the engine, and the small particles can damage the cylinders, rings and plugs while bouncing around in the engine. I always thought this was very odd, as exhaust gas is supposed to be coming OUT of the engine, and INTO the precatalyst, and then OUT the precatalyst and DOWN the exhaust pipe and OUT the tail pipe. SO, how could this material go back up into the engine when all this exhaust gas is supposed to be coming out? It would seem that there would have to be some kind of pressure or force from somewhere to push the material back through the engine exhaust ports into the engine, but from where? So I thought about this for a while, then my daughter calls and says her 2002 Alitima 2.5S is making this strange sound, like air whoosing, when she steps on the gas, and the engine had very little power. But she kept driving it for a while until she could get by my house for me to look at it. When I did look at it, it did indeed make a strange whoosing sound, like a sound of rushing air when I stepped on the gas, at idle it sounded almost normal. So I looked underneath the car and I found exhaust gas was gushing out of the point where the bottom of the exhaust manifold/precatalyst is connected to the exhaust pipe with 2 springs and a gasket. It makes kind of a flexible connection so the the engine can rock back and forth a little bit. So I said that there must be quite a bit of pressure in the exhaust pipe for it to be leaking out like that with such force. So then I went to the back of the car to see how much gas was coming out the tail pipe, and when I checked I could feel none! When she revved the engine, I could barley feel a bit of exhaust gas. The exhaust was plugged up! So I got underneath the car and found that the exhaust pipe continues under the center of the car until it gets to this 2nd Catalytic converter before the muffler, it looks like a double cone, narrow at each end and fat in the middle. I felt the temperature of the exhaust pipe, and it was hot near the exhaust manifold, but got cooler as I felt closer to the 2nd catalytic converter. When I felt the 2nd catalytic converter, it was still cold, even after the engine ran for several minutes. That means it was plugged up! I unbolted the pipe and 2nd catalytic converter and took it off and unplugged it, put it back on, and the car ran perfect again. The gasket at the flexible connection was still perfectly good. The exhaust gas had been allowed to leak out at that point due to the spring connectors, when the pressure in the pipe got high enough the springs would compress, allowing the joint to open slightly, and allow the exhaust gas to leak out. Therefore, the pressure was high in the exhaust pipe all the way from the engine exhaust ports to the 2nd catalytic converter. This section of precatalyst/exhaust manifold and exhaust pipe has a volume and acts like a pressure tank holding high pressure when the engine is running, having higher pressure when the engine runs faster. So this is what happens, the exhaust coming out the engine exhaust ports is not a constant flow, as the exhaust valves are opening and closing very fast, so the gas comes out pulsating, pushing against the already high pressure in the precatalyst. At the end of a strong pulse, the high pressure in the precatalyst can actually push some gas back up into the exhaust port, because of the high gas pressure in the precatalyst. So, the Exhaust gas is exhausting into high pressure, and some of the high pressure can push back up into the exhaust ports in between the high pressure pulses of exhaust gas coming out of the exhaust ports. Under "certain conditions" it is possible for material to blow from the precatalyst back into the engine causing engine damage.

    So, what does all this mean? I believe the problem originates with the design of the exhaust system, having the 1st catalytic converter so very close to the exhaust ports. I don't know of any other car that has the 1st catalytic converter built into the exhaust manifold so close to the exhaust ports. The problem doesn't seem to arise until there is backpressure in the system that can cause the precatalyst material to blow back into the engine.

    I have not seen anywhere, where anyone has given a practical explaination as to why this is occuring, but this is the most sensible theory that I have been able to come up with. I believe that since the Nissan exhaust system design may have caused the problems with the engine, Nissan should pay the cost of fixing these cars. So I'm ready to jump on this band wagon too.

    I would be very interested to hear comments from other owners who may have experienced this same problem or something similar. Has anyone else had problems with exhaust restrictions or similar problems?

    E.D. ISF
  • After you unclogged the cat converter, you haven't had any problems? oil consumption, etc...? How difficult is it to take the cat off of the car? I just had the cat converter replaced after the check engine light came on, and I am really nervous that the engine is going to crap out on me soon so I am debating if I should trade the car off before that happens. I have felt the cat and it gets warm when the car idles, and it also gets warm on the exhaust pipe back towards the muffler which would lead me to believe that it is not clogged. Also, I can feel exhaust coming out the back end even when the car is in idle. I have been monitoring the oil consumption after the cat was replaced, and it doesn't seem to have burned any oil since then (i have put about 300 miles on it since the cat was replaced). Any info would be helpful!! About 2 months ago I had to pay to get a cracked head gasket replaced. Would this have been caused by the exhaust system being clogged? I never checked the exhaust to see if the pipes were hot or if anything was coming out until after the cat was replaced because I didn't find this post until that point. I just put 4 new tires, brakes, and rotors on this car, and I DO NOT want to pay for a new engine, especially since i still owe $8000 on the car! WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH THIS CAR??!!
  • Tim, I'm glad to help. My daughters Altima is a 2002 with 97,500 miles, what year is yours and what is your mileage? The date that I unplugged the cat was 09/01/2007, and it has been running fine since then. I am talking about the SECOND CAT, the one under the middle of the car, right before the muffler. The car had been running very poorly for about a month before, because the cat was clogged. No problems since then, but we are watching to see how the oil consumption goes. We did not notice it consuming any oil between oil changes until it reached 97,000 miles. I am thinking the cat could have gotten clogged from oil in the exhaust. I was still debating if the oil in the exhaust caused the cat to clog, or did the cat clog and cause the engine damage and thus the oil to burn in the engine. I tend to think that they both contribute to each other, but most likely the problem would originate with the oil consumption problem first, which would make oil in the exhaust that would clog the cat. Did your original cat clog up too, or partially clog, or what? Since you have a new cat installed, is the engine still burning oil (a quart every 1000 miles, or using more oil than that)? If it is still burning a little oil, I think the cat will eventually clog again, but I don't know how long that would take, probably depends the most on how much oil it burns. Since you say it's not burning oil right now, the cat may last quite a while yet. Most important, see how much oil it uses between oil changes. I can't endorse unclogging the cat, because it is required by law to be on there. Don't mess with yours unless it's clogged. Mine is still on there, but it is a wide open pipe now. It was easy to remove if you are good at working on cars. To remove, jack up the car and set safely on sturdy jack stands. Safety First. Spray WD-40 on all the bolts before you try to loosen them, the bolts may be rusted tight. Remove the 2 bolts with springs at the front connection to the exhaust manifold (which is also the pre catalyst converter, the FIRST CAT, which is inside the exhaust manifold). There is a donut gasket that falls off when the pipe comes off, save the doughnut gasket or put on a new one, but the pipe won't come off yet until you take the other end of the pipe loose. Go to the flanged connection between the 2nd Cat and the muffler, and find the 2 bolts and nuts that hold this connection together, spray them with WD-40 to help loosen them, they will likely be very tight and rusted. You need good wrenches and a lot of leverage to get them to loosen and come off. Once the bolts and nuts are off, the gasket comes out of the connection, mine was metal and could be reused. This section of exhaust pipe with the cat (about 5 feet long) will be loose and hanging by the robber support in the middle of the pipe. If you carefully slide the pipe hanger out of the rubber support, it will come off. Once off, you can look into the end of it and see what looks like a fine screen, with the cat material ahead of that. What I did was to take a round metal bar and a large hammer and beat the stuff out of the pipe. The stuff crumbled up easily and came out, resulting in a wide open pipe. Then I put the pipe back in, the reverse of the removal procedure.
    It is strange that you had the cracked head gasket problem, my daughters Altima seems to also have the same problem, it had some combustion gas leaking into the cooling system. I put some cooling system sealer in it, and it is fixed it for now. I don't really want to tear into the engine if I don't have to. It is most likely a leaking head gasket, but it could be a cracked head or cracked block. I read one report where a guy said his had a cracked block and had to get another engine, but that cost almost $4,000.00, too much for me. I am struggling right now just trying to get my daughter through college, and there is no money for major car repairs, so I am hoping to nurse it along with the cooling system sealer. I used the Bar's Leak Pelletized Cooling System Sealer and it seems to work well so far. If worst comes to worse, I will have to pull the head off to see where the problem lies, but small head gasket leaks are very hard to see, and I would have to send the head out and have it checked for trueness and any cracks. And I hate working on those kind of engines with all those timing chains and tensioners, the timing chains on the passenger side being hard to see and reach. So I'll do major engine work on it only as a very last resort. I told my daughter to try to save some money and next time buy a Toyota or Honda.
    So, about your car, what makes you think the engine may be going bad? Keep all the maintenance up and keep the oil filled up and it should last a while yet, depending on how much oil it is using. How much oil it is using is one way to measure how good the engine is. You can also check the cylinder compression on each cylinder. A good engine should have good compression, a poor engine would have weak compression. I checked the compression on my daughters Altima and it had 190 pounds on all 4 cylinders with dry cylinders and at normal cranking speed. This is real good, especially since the numbers where all the same, so it made me feel good about the engine, I know that the compression rings are holding well, the oil consumption problem most probably has something to do with a problem with the lower oil control rings on the pistons. This amount of compression looked very good to me. The compression readings should all be within 20% of each other, the closer the better. As an example using my 190 numbers, 20% of 190 = 38. So the lowest cylinder shoud read no more than 38 less than 190 = 152. If I would have had numbers that read 190, 180, 170 & 160, I would have been ok, but the 190 numbers being all the same is much better. If I would have had numbers like 190, 170, 160 & 140, I would have had a problem with that low cylinder, and I would have to do some further checking. It could be due to leaking valves, leaking rings, leaking head gasket or worse.
    If you have doubts about you engine, do a compression check to verify the general health of the engine. A cylinder with low compression indicates a problem. Any auto shop can do it, so call to check prices, or you can do it yourself if you are up to it. You can buy a nice compression tester on the net for about $30 to $35. Write down the compression readings on a piece of paper with the date and mileage and keep for future reference.
    Since you have put some money into the car, and since you owe so much on it, I would try to keep it going, as long as it doesn't drain your wallet dry. It helps a lot if you can do your own work on the cars. I don't know what your Altima is worth right now. If it is worth a lot, or you owe a lot on the car, then that may be a good reason to try to keep it going. But if it turns out to cost you too much money to keep it going, it may be best to get something else that
  • I had my motor replaced jan. of 06 with 13k miles. The rebuilt motor just blew out at 25k. I am going through hell with the dealer. I have only two documented oil changes which I do myself and I know how to change my oil! I have called Nissan consumer affairs and said the same thing,I have to pay out of my pocket if they determine if its my fault. Oh yeah, I'm sure they are going to say it's my fault. Basically they stiffed me! I have called BBB but what can they do? What options do I have? The repair bill can of excess of $8,000.00! I also have a Nissan frontier with 160K with no problems. This car is a plain LEMON! Any advice anybody?
  • I too had a 06 altima the engine was replaced in Feb with a rebuilt engine and I had nothing but problems with it ever since I too contacted the bbb auto line and I had good results. I filed for the lemon law and followed each step very carefully, the person I had contact with at the BBB was very helpful in helping me and answering all my concerns. The best advice that I can give is to stay cool getting nasty does not help!!! Follow all of the steps and get together as much documentation as you can. Did you have problems with it afterwards? My problems seemed so minor that I had problems getting the dealership to listen to my concerns. I had just a slight miss in the motor but it was enough to alarm me, I didn't care that they couldn't find the problem I knew that it wasn't there before. If you did have problems were they documented at the dealer. I had to go thru the arbitration with the BBB and I won I choose to have my Altima replaced with a new one,rather than to get my money returned, I choose to get the 6 cylinder this time as I was concerned with the 4 cylinder motors. I got a 2007 and I am very pleased. Of course at this time you would most likely have to get a 2008 you have to pay the mileage, but it is worth it. If there is anything that I can do to help please let me know. A blown engine should not happen to a car where the engine has less the 12k miles on it which is what this engine had even if the oil had never been changed!!!!! And with all of the problems that they have been having I think that you have a good case just keep your cool it is very important
  • I feel very sad for you MR. reddeyez, my eyes got red too just reading your story. I find it incredible that the first engine blew at 13K, and then the 2nd engine blew at 25K. If I read that right, the second engine lasted only 12K? Something certainly seems amiss here. I noticed that you said that you did the oil changes yourself. I think that is fine if you have a vehicle that is off the warranty, but I think it is much safer to let them do the servicing while the vehicle in on the warranty, as they will then have all the service records, and the ball is in their court. By doing the service yourself, you have to have all the reciepts for all the required materials, plus you have to prove that it was actually done at the correct time in the correct way, and you have to be able to prove your expertise at doing the job properly. You may be able to do all that, but it is a fight trying to prove all that.
    Good luck to you.
    E.D. ISF
  • Well, I checked the engine compression. Here were the results. I had a local independent mechanic do the tests. He told me these numbers were middle of the road...
    Sitting at about
    550 miles on the car since the cat was replaced and oil change. The oil has gone down significantly since then. It is about 1/2 way down the "checkered" (Between the High and Low line) area on the dipstick. Now I need to decide if I go after Nissan to replace my engine for free, or if I should just trade it in before it quits running. Has everybody seen this website: l
    It says that Nissan will pay to replace the engine if the cat going bad causes engine failure.
  • Your Altimas compressions sound TOO LOW. As I said before, my Atlimas compressions were all 190 lbs on a 2002 Altima 2.5L with 97,500 miles on it. If the compressions are low due to worn rings and worn cylinders, then the outlook is very dim, as this means there has been excessive early wear in the cylinders and you engine has worn out before it's time. If that is the case, it may be time to get rid of the car before it quits entirely.

    I hope that your low compressions are from something other than worn out rings and cylinders. Continue to monitor the oil consumption, the maximum that you should use is 1 quart in a 1000 miles. If the oil is not leaking out, and you use more oil than 1 qt in 1000 miles, this would help confirm that your engine has a serious problem.

    Good Luck,
    E.D. ISF
  • I will definitely wait to see what BBB has to offer me. My first motor did not go out but it was consuming too much oil. The dealer did a test on it and said it will be changed with a NEW motor at no charge. Come 8 months later when the second motor went out, I found out is was rebuilt! I read in the manual, oil change intervals is 7500 miles or every six months. I have just two receipts which is enough because the second motor has only 13k miles in it. Like grampy said, the motor can not go out because lack of oil changes at 3k miles. I think they got that rebuilt motor from the junkyard, it looked like it was sitting out in the yard. Thanks for the help
  • greanpea68greanpea68 Posts: 1,996
    I found out is was rebuilt! I read in the manual, oil change intervals is 7500 miles or every six months. I have just two receipts

    Read the manual again it clearly states in the Maitanance manual that oil changes are every 3,750 miles :sick:
  • jd10013jd10013 Posts: 779
    It also says that it depends on driving conditions, and could need changed more often. They refer to that as severe driving conditions.
  • we have a 2002 nissan altima 2.5 with approximately 88,000 miles on it. all of a sudden it will periodically cut off while driving and then restart. has anyone experienced this with their altima and what was the problem? thanks!
  • The catalytic converters can become obstructed ,esp. if the design of the emmisions system / engine performance issues contribute to causing said blockage. Many poor engine performance problems are a result of obstructed catalytic converters...regardless of vehicle manufacturer. I can imagine the trouble that having 2 catalytic converters would cause. Nissan needs to own up for these engine failures because of their exhaust system design.
  • Hello everyone...
    Just as everyone else I have been having problems with my Nissan Altima '07. It has been the worst car ever and im stuck with it for the next three years...(by the way anyone has any ideas how can i get rid of it without loosing to much money?) any ways i took it to the dealer because it was rattling and shaking when accelerating and even more shaking when going above 60miles... they changed the transmission mount.. of course without even consulting me... but does anyone know if this is the issue? i thought these repairs were for old or worn out cars...
    Thank youuuuu
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Since this topic is specifically about engine failures, let's continue over here at this link: tabola, "Nissan Altima Maintenance and Repair" #2099, 12 Nov 2007 9:05 am.

    Welcome to CarSpace - hope we can help!
  • I recently had a dealership mechanic change the crankshaft sensor on my 2002 2.5L Nissan Altima, shortly after the check service engine light turned on and I took it back two days after he did the work and he said that after a few days the check engine light will turn off because the engine sensor has to reset itself.

    While I did not buy the answer, and since I know little about cars, I took his answer and waiting three days, the check engine light is still on and the car runs but it may not start or the engine cuts off.

    Is anybody familiar with problem? What can I have checked out beside the mechanic.

  • I can't believe the Dealership mechanic told you that it would "reset itself" ,especially after two days. The guy is just a buffoon! You can take that car anywhere and have the check engine light codes read with a scanner at any garage and most auto parts houses. I know autozone does it for free, because they will try to sell you parts. They can read the codes and then they will tell you what they think the problem is. The code does not usually tell you what part is bad, but what part of the electrical system the fault resides in. Some diagnosis is usually required along with the code read, unless it is a very simple problem.
  • I agree with you, the guy is a buffoon, I am taking the car back and asking that they have a more experience person look at the car and run the diagnostic, if not I will be calling my lawyer, since my car is worse now than it was before they did the work.

    Thanks for the suggestion.

  • tleytley Posts: 3
    The engine on my 2003 Nissan Altima 2.5S shakes very hard at RPM over 2,200.

    The check engin light is on. I do not think there is a broken motor mount. A broken motor mount would only make a clunk at first accerleation. This is a problem whereby the engine makes a clunking noise and shakes around at RMP over 2,200.

    Does anyone know what is happening here?
  • I just happened to run across the following CNBC Nissan recall report, hope it helps.....

    Nissan Recalls US Cars, Engine May Stop Running
    Japan's Nissan Motor said on Thursday it will recall 713,986 Altima and Sentra cars in North America, mostly in the United States, because their engines may suddenly stop running.
  • omeome Posts: 1
    I bought a used 2002 Altima from Nissan dealder with 82,000 miles. It was burning oil and the catalytic converter was replaced for $900. Was told this would solve the oil problem. Its still has the problem and dealer said it needs a new engine.

    Am not car saavy and dont know what to do. The car was $8000 and 10 months later they want me to spend $5000 on it! Could have bought a new Versa with that money.

    Please let me know if I should pay it or is there any other resolutions?
    Thanks in advance.
  • i had the same issue... i just bought a used engine for my altima... i don't think replacing the catalytic converter will resolve it.... :sick:
  • it wont start eating itself until ya hit around 60 to 80 thousand miles. when the pre cat goes bad and the engine eats the entrails of the pre cat [ the one closest to the engine] i bought a used one that the dealer said passed emissions test. no way, it could eating oil like it is. try toyota they take care of thier buyers. im considering parking mine in front of the dealer and sacraficing it to the god of fire.
  • Sorry to say that almost everyone seems to be getting burned by Nissan on these Altima Engine Failures. Please, when you go to buy a car, do lots of research to find out everything you can about the car you intend to buy, look at the specs and see what all the owners have to say.
    Please go back and read my post #75 in this Forum and also read #76 & #77, it will explain a lot. It's probably too late to help you now, once the engine is too far gone. My daughters 2002 2.5S, bought at end of 2003, the Altima did not show any problems until about 97,000 miles at around Sept 2007. I think it was because I have been taking good care of it since she had it. I do all the servicing myself and only use Synthetic Motor Oil and Synthetic Motor Oil Filters. When she bought this car in 2003 with 29,000 miles, there was no bad history on this vehicle, and no one saw these problems coming. Everyone thought they were great cars, until they got enough miles on them for the problems to start.
    So my daughters 2002 Altima 2.5L is burning some oil now, but I unplugged the REAR CAT a few months ago, when I clogged up completely. I took it off and made it into a hollow CAT, and I works fine now. But the engine also has a leaking head gasket, leaking coolant into one cylinder at times, and leaking combustion gas into the cooling system at times. I put some coolant sealer in the radiator and it has fixed it enough to drive for a couple of months until I can schedule to work on it.
    So the time is close now, I start work on it Sunday Dec 09, 2007, I am going to pull the head and send it out to be checked and reworked, replace the head gasket, Remove the PRECAT and unplug it and hollow it out, so that nothing can blow back up into the engine and destroy it. If I can't get away with a hollow PRECAT, I'll have to find another one somewhere. The Engine is luckily still in good enough shape, as the compression in all 4 cylinders was 190 pounds.I will find out more about the condition of the cylinder walls when I get the head off. I will also find out the condition of the valve guides and seals when the head is in the shop, I'm hoping new valve seals will stop the oil burning.
    I will post updates here to tell what I find and what I do about it. I am sure that when I am done with it, it will be a good engine for beyond 150,000 miles and she will have gotten rid of it by then. I told her no more Nissans, next car is going to be a Toyota or Honda. I am budgeting about $500-$600 to do this job, doing all the work myself, Head work $100-$300 depending on what needs to be done, $80 for new head bolts, $80 for new gaskets, and throw in another $100 for oil, antifreeze, hoses, and miscellaneous parts and materials.
    Good luck guys,
    E. D. in Sunny Florida
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